This Father’s Day…
I want to pay tribute to those men who stand in the gap for absentee fathers; those who are fathers to the fatherless.
I work with a lot of children who do not have a father in their lives. Or worse yet, the fathers are there – causing havoc and needless pain.
When God designed fatherhood, he planned for men to stay with their children, to provide and protect them and LOVE them as he encourages their developing selves within the context of family.
In our society today, fathers abdicate, abandon, or refuse to ever acknowledge their roles in their child’s life to the extreme detriment of their children and to society. Consider the following statistics:
- 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes (US Dept. Of Health/Census) – 5 times the average.
- 90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes – 32 times the average.
- 85% of all children who show behavior disorders come from fatherless homes – 20 times the average. (Center for Disease Control)
- 80% of rapists motivated with displaced anger come from fatherless homes. [Criminal Justice & Behavior, Vol. 14, pp. 403-26, 1978]
- 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes – 9 times the average. (National Principals Association Report)
- 90% of adolescent repeat arsonists live with only their mother. [Wray Herbert, “Dousing the Kindlers,” Psychology Today, January, 1985, p. 28]
- 71% of pregnant teenagers lack a father. [U.S. Department of Health and Human Services press release, Friday, March 26, 1999]
- 75% of adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers come from fatherless homes. [Rainbows for all God’s Children]
- 85% of youths in prisons grew up in a fatherless home. [Fulton County Georgia jail populations, Texas Department of Corrections, 1992]
Father Factor in Drug and Alcohol Abuse – Researchers at Columbia University found that children living in two-parent households with a poor relationship with their father are 68% more likely to smoke, drink, or use drugs compared to all teens in two-parent households. Teens in single mother households are at a 30% higher risk than those in two-parent households.
Father Factor in Child Abuse – Compared to living with both parents, living in a single-parent home doubles the risk that a child will suffer physical, emotional, or educational neglect. The overall rate of child abuse and neglect in single-parent households is 27.3 children per 1,000, whereas the rate of overall maltreatment in two-parent households is 15.5 per 1,000.
Daughters of single parents without a Father involved are 53% more likely to marry as teenagers, 711% more likely to have children as teenagers, 164% more likely to have a pre-marital birth and 92% more likely to get divorced themselves.
Adolescent girls raised in a 2 parent home with involved Fathers are significantly less likely to be sexually active than girls raised without involved Fathers.
- 43% of US children live without their father [US Department of Census]
- Fatherless boys and girls are: twice as likely to drop out of high school; twice as likely to end up in jail; four times more likely to need help for emotional or behavioral problems. [US D.H.H.S. news release, March 26, 1999]
- Children with involved, loving fathers are significantly more likely to do well in school, have healthy self-esteem, exhibit empathy and pro-social behavior, and avoid high-risk behaviors such as drug use, truancy, and criminal activity compared to children who have uninvolved fathers.
- Studies on parent-child relationships and child wellbeing show that father love is an important factor in predicting the social, emotional, and cognitive development and functioning of children and young adults.
- Fathers who live with their children are more likely to have a close, enduring relationship with their children than those who do not.
- Compared to children born within marriage, children born to cohabiting parents are three times as likely to experience father absence, and children born to unmarried, non-cohabiting parents are four times as likely to live in a father-absent home.
- Children who live absent their biological fathers are, on average, at least two to three times more likely to be poor, to use drugs, to experience educational, health, emotional and behavioral problems, to be victims of child abuse, and to engage in criminal behavior than their peers who live with their married, biological (or adoptive) parents.
But I don’t want to focus on the “bad” fathers. We can’t fix them or the problem itself. Let’s talk about what we can do. This blog is in appreciation for the men who go above and beyond the call of duty to their own children to make a difference in the lives of other children.
My own father was abusive and I dreaded every moment in his presence. But there was a man who lived next door who had a blind, physically handicapped and mentally retarded daughter. I had the privilege of growing up under their shadow. My contact with him was limited but very powerful.
This was in the 1950’s and 1960’s. During a time in our society when children who were severely handicapped or deformed were hidden away from society, Mr. Jones took his daughter shopping, to restaurants, to the park; anywhere she wanted to go. Often, I was allowed to go on these excursions and I will remember his kindness the rest of my life. He showed me the tenderness and concern every child deserves from their own father. Years later when I met a Godly man I knew what loving well looked like.
We are always developing new terminology to fit our changing society and an often used current phrase is “father wound”. This refers to the open wound of a person’s heart that is left unhealed after a father has abandoned or abused his offspring. Those children grow into adults having no idea how to achieve intimacy or connection and closeness when they were deprived of affection and praise from their dads.
I know a 28 year old man who has set his own personal life aside to raise his young brother and sister because both their parents are incarcerated. He didn’t have to do that. He could very easily have decided that it’s finally his time to live his life. He traded in his opportunity for education, finding a wife and having children to do homework, meal prep, field trips, and social activities with his young siblings. They are his priority because he knows what it is like to grow up with those same parents who don’t value the children.
I know a teacher who has taken 2 foster kids under his wing and provided new clothes and shoes for the summer. He drops by their foster home regularly and brings pizza or a Publix gift card. He’s not a relative or their foster parent or a neighbor, and he isn’t their teacher. He simply crossed paths with these kids and knows they need extra encouragement along with trendy clothes to help their self-esteem.
Recently I watched as a older man sought out a middle school child whose father is completely out of his life. He sat beside him and pursued a conversation with the child until they found some common interest. The man encouraged the boy in his pursuits, complimented his intelligence and, in general, showed interest in him.
These are the silent heroes in our society who hold the fabric of precious young lives together.
It’s almost impossible NOT to know a child who has a father wound. The rest of us have a choice to be part of the problem or part of the solution. If you know a child growing up without a father, spend time with them. Listen to them and encourage them. It is our joy and privilege to come alongside a fatherless child. Whether we are involved for a moment or a lifetime, it makes an impact on a developing child.
This Father’s Day, send cards and visit your own father if that’s your desire, but don’t overlook the other men who take on the role of “Dad” to those less fortunate. It DOES take a village to raise a child and we are all responsible for the “orphans” in our midst, whether they are orphaned through death or abandonment. Give a child a smile. It doesn’t cost you a thing and the rewards are immeasurable.